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Taranaki Cathedral Dean Peter Beck says a Government announcement today to invest up to $5 million for the development of the Cathedral is a “fantastic boost” for the project.
“This is fabulous and gives some certainty around the future of our historic Cathedral,” Dean Peter said. “We are greatly appreciative and excited by this announcement.
“There is still a lot of work to be done and we are truly thankful for the tremendous support the New Plymouth and wider Taranaki community have given us.
“The Government’s acknowledgement means we are well on the way towards our priority of reopening the Cathedral and our vision of being a place of welcome for all faiths and none, a place where our heritage and story from 1846 is acknowledged and told, and our commitment to peace and reconciliation between all people is our purpose.”
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones was at Taranaki Cathedral today and announced the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) would invest up to $5 million in the $15 million remediation and development project to create a Cathedral precinct on the site.
Taranaki Cathedral has been closed for earthquake strengthening since February 2016 and a fundraising project, The Cathedral Project, has been established and fundraising has started. The Taranaki Cathedral parish aims to raise at least $2 million itself.
“The Taranaki Cathedral has been at the centre of nationally important history and is rich with artefacts and stories,” Mr Jones said. “It has acted as a garrison and a centre of peace. Once restoration is complete, New Zealand’s oldest stone church will offer visitors, both local and international, a rich and immersive experience.
“It will showcase the sometimes turbulent story of European settlement in Taranaki and the relationship between Maori and Pakeha over 175 years.”
The project concept involves the remediation and upgrade of the Cathedral to make it a more flexible place for worship, arts, music, drama and other events, and the enhancement of the site, including the addition of a world-class welcoming atrium space, which will honour the memory of former governor-general and first Māori archbishop of the Anglican church Sir Paul Reeves, and be a space for community events. The project concept also incorporates the adjacent wooden vicarage, built in 1899, and on-site carparking.
Once completed, Taranaki Cathedral is expected to help add to Taranaki’s reputation as a popular tourist destination. It will provide an educational and interpretative experience through the remediated and upgraded Cathedral, displays, audio visual guides and multi-media resources. It is estimated that annually it will draw more than 64,000 domestic visitors, more than 10,500 international visitors and contribute about $7.3 million to the regional economy.
“As well as being a place of worship and a fabulous welcoming space for the community and visitors, we believe this development will truthfully represent the history of the Church in Taranaki, honour the ancient beliefs and karakia of Taranaki, speak of peace and reconciliation in a way that points to the unique significance of Parihaka, and model the shape of a bicultural partnership going forward,” Dean Peter said.
The Cathedral Project remediation and design manager Jenny Goddard said engineering, building, and conservation investigations, assessments and plans were well under way so that work would now accelerate with this funding.